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Reflections on the political, technological, cultural and economic trends of the world

The Gospels

APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS

GOSPEL OF THE EBIONITES
-The Ebionites were a sect that followed Jesus’ message, but rejected Paul’s doctrine and considered him as an apostate from the Jewish Law (for instance Paul argued that even non-circumcised could become Christians). The Early Church Fathers describe them as a sect of poor and puritanical followers of Jesus.
-Origen claims the term ‘Ebionite’ derives from ‘Ebionim’ (a Hellenised version of ‘poor’ in Hebrew).
-The Ebionites denied the divinity of Jesus and Jesus’ virgin birth
-The ‘Gospel of the Ebionites’ is lost, except for a few quotations that have survived in the texts of the early Church Fathers.

GOSPEL OF THE NAZARENES
-A sect of Jewish-Christians following Jesus’ message
-The Gospel is lost, except for a few fragments.

GNOSTIC GOSPELS

THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS (dating: 50-140 A.D)
-Found in 1945 with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library. The Original language of this Gospel is in Ancient Greek and Coptic.
-Some dispute the fact that Thomas’ gospel can be categorised as a gnostic text, since its content has very few references to gnostic thought.
-It is considered the ‘fifth gospel’ because many of the Jesus’ sayings are similar to the ones of the canonical gospel.
-Jesus seems to criticise extreme forms of asceticism. In the saying number 14 he claims that “When you go into any land and walk about in the districts, if they receive you, eat what they will set before you, and heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth – it is that which will defile you”. And when Jesus is asked by his followers on whether to fast, his response is “Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven” (saying number 6). At the same time Jesus warns the disciples about the superficialities of the mundane life: “(36) Jesus said, “Do not be concerned from morning until evening and from evening until morning about what you will wear.” [translation by Thomas O. Lambdin of the Coptic Gnostic Library Project). For Jesus the crux of the matter is about striking the right balance between asceticism and superficial mundane preoccupations.
-Excerpts from a translation by Thomas O. Lambdin (Coptic Gnostic Library Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont Graduate School):
*All of the following sayings in the Gospel are attributed to Jesus:

-“If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”
-The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like.”
He said to them, “It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.”
-They [the disciples] said to him, “Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?”
Jesus said to them, “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom.”
– Jesus said, “I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent.”
– Jesus said, “Grapes are not harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they do not produce fruit. A good man brings forth good from his storehouse; an evil man brings forth evil things from his evil storehouse, which is in his heart, and says evil things. For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil things.”
-Jesus said, “If they say to you, ‘Where did you come from?’, say to them, ‘We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.’ If they say to you, ‘Is it you?’, say, ‘We are its children, we are the elect of the living father.’ If they ask you, ‘What is the sign of your father in you?’, say to them, ‘It is movement and repose.'”
-His disciples said to him, “Is circumcision beneficial or not?”
He said to them, “If it were beneficial, their father would beget them already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become completely profitable.”
-Jesus said, “Whoever has come to understand the world has found (only) a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world.”
-Jesus said, “Two will rest on a bed: the one will die, and the other will live.”
Salome said, “Who are you, man, that you … have come up on my couch and eaten from my table?”
Jesus said to her, “I am he who exists from the undivided.”
-Jesus said, “There was a rich man who had much money. He said, ‘I shall put my money to use so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouse with produce, with the result that I shall lack nothing.’ Such were his intentions, but that same night he died. Let him who has ears hear.”
-Jesus said, “It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”
-Jesus said, “The images are manifest to man, but the light in them remains concealed in the image of the light of the father. He will become manifest, but his image will remain concealed by his light.”
-Jesus said, “If you have money, do not lend it at interest, but give it to one from whom you will not get it back.”
-Jesus said, “He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.”
-His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?”
<Jesus said,> “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘here it is’ or ‘there it is.’ Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.”

THE GOSPEL OF PHILLIP (dating: 180-250 A.D)
-Found in 1945 with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library. The Original language of this Gospel is in Ancient Greek and Coptic.
-According to major historians like Bentley Layton and Hans-Martin Schenke, this Gospel is influenced by the Valentinian version of gnosticism
-Magdalene is described as Jesus’ ‘companion’
-Extensive use of Gnostic terminology and symbolism: ‘Sofia’, ‘Echamoth’, the world as a creation by mistake.
Excerpts from a translation by Wesley W. Isenberg (Coptic Gnostic Library Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont Graduate School):

-“Those who sow in winter reap in summer. The winter is the world, the summer the other Aeon (eternal realm)”
-“Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.”
-“Before Christ came, there was no bread in the world, just as Paradise…Man used to feed like the animals, but when Christ came, the perfect man, he brought bread from heaven in order that man might be nourished with the food of man. Truth, which existed since the beginning, is sown everywhere. And many see it being sown, but few are they who see it being reaped.”
-“”The Father” and “the Son” are single names; “the Holy Spirit” is a double name. For they are everywhere: they are above, they are below; they are in the concealed, they are in the revealed. The Holy Spirit is in the revealed: it is below. It is in the concealed: it is above.”
-[Jesus]: “”I came to make the things below like the things above, and the things outside like those inside. I came to unite them in the place.”
-“This world is a corpse-eater. All the things eaten in it themselves die also. Truth is a life-eater. Therefore no one nourished by truth will die. It was from that place that Jesus came and brought food. To those who so desired, he gave life, that they might not die”
-“Ignorance is the mother of all evil. Ignorance will result in death, because those who come from ignorance neither were nor are nor shall be. […] will be perfect when all the truth is revealed. For truth is like ignorance: while it is hidden, it rests in itself, but when it is revealed and is recognized, it is praised, inasmuch as it is stronger than ignorance and error. It gives freedom…. Ignorance is a slave. Knowledge is freedom. If we know the truth, we shall find the fruits of the truth within us. If we are joined to it, it will bring our fulfillment.

OTHERS

THE GOSPEL OF PETER (probably second Century AD)
-Attributed to the Apostle Peter, but it is highly unlikely
-It was discovered in 1886 by a French archeologist in Akhmim, Egypt.
-The gospel is mainly about Jesus’ passion. Much of the blame for Jesus’ crucifixion is directed to the Jews rather than to the Romans. Herod is blamed the most, while Pilatus seems to be innocent.

THE GOSPEL OF NICODEMUS

 

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